Dec. 21st--Solstice cruising
The shortest day of the year, the rebirth of the sun, found us motoring, motoring, motoring south, the miles silly playthings, mere baubles to be enjoyed for a moment then tossed aside for another. We reeled in Badwater and Telescope and left them behind. I gazed for long moments at the whirling spokes, living a cycling dream. High clouds covered the sky all day and cut the intensity, welcome even on this day of the weakest sun. Snow lay high on the Panamints as we slid past under the Funeral Mountains, massive eroded gullies and ravines, craggy ridges, countless tons of tilted and tottering boulders waiting for just the right moment to come crashing down. At times we cranked apprehensively, looking up at the Doomsday rocks perched so tenuously on the vertiginous mountain walls.
Midway through the day's riding, Hannibal pulled over to take our picture. A jolly good chap, he couldn't get enough of our rig and the adventure we were having. I let him take the captain's seat for a moment to get a feel for our mode of travel.
Late in the afternoon, we hit the bottom of Badwater Rd. and bumped down another dirt lane to find a smooth sandy wash for camping. A cool north wind blew down the valley as we pitched the tent and prepared for the long solstice night, the Funerals catching a blush of alpenglow as the sun died behind the Owlshead Mountains. Salsbury Pass, tomorrow's epic struggle, fell into shadows as we sipped our solstice wine and enjoyed our solitude, no diesel 4X4 anywhere on the horizon.
Miles: 49; Total: 166
Climb: 1,500 ft.